We hosted our first ever 9/11 Ruck of Remembrance in Huntsville, AL on September 11, 2018. And it was great. This was the first big event put on by TitanForge, and we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
We had a really solid team of people show up to honor the fallen by participating in this event. We started the night with 18 ruckers: 7 Shadows and 11 Honor Participants.
Three brave souls opted to ruck in full firefighter turnout gear, helmets included. We had experienced ruckers and one participant who had never been under a ruck until that night. All came together to form a great team that pushed through everything that was thrown at them.
Ruck of Remembrance Event Recap
The Honor Participants were told at the onset of the event that they would be expected to face physical challenges in addition to the miles of rucking. If an Honor Participant failed to conquer a challenge, they would be stripped of their patch and dropped to Shadow status. Shadows were basically along for the ride, meaning they weren’t subject to the 30-pound weight requirement and could forego any challenge they weren’t up to.
After a briefing and a reminder of what this event was about, the night began. A brief round of team building exercises in the beautiful Huntsville Veterans Park got everyone on the same page, then we were off on our 9.11+ mile journey.
The Patriot’s Climb
About a mile in, the team faced its first challenge: the Patriot’s Climb. 66 stairs. 30 times up, 30 times down to match the stairs in the World Trade Center. It was a grueling way to start a night of rucking. There were plenty of cramps and a little bit of puking, but they made it through with heads held high.
After a short break, the team got to rucking through the city of Huntsville. Spending well over an hour climbing stairs together had brought the team together and they made great progress.
Then came the second challenge. A short but effective exercise produced a couple of “casualties” who had to be stretcher carried more than a mile to our halfway point at the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum. I’ll admit that, as the event leader, it was hard for me to not offer suggestions as the team struggled under the load of their temporarily-disabled comrades. But it was not my place to solve their problems for them, and I didn’t dare rob them of the victory of figuring out the best way to make it through. After spending far too long going far too slow, one of the guys from a TitanForge HSV Battle Team gave a suggestion that helped everyone and sped things up exponentially. (And yes, I had a proud trainer moment.)
At the halfway point, most of our Shadows dropped off and left us with the team of 12 that would end up finishing the event. We took a break to rehydrate and share stories of where we were on 9/11, then got back to it.
The Final Challenge
The team was given an opportunity: finish the next challenge as a team in fifteen minutes or less and earn the right to ruck straight to the finish, no more challenges along the way. A low crawl through a field and up a hill. No big deal. Until you get three-quarters of the way through and don’t think you’re going to be able to make it in time. That’s when everyone else on your team steps in to cheer you on, you dig down deep, and finish with two minutes to spare. That taste in your mouth? That’s not grass. That’s freedom.
A steady ruck back through the city to Veterans Park was capped off with the surprise of a final few rounds of ruckless PT through the park, then the participants returning to find the shirts they had earned by completing the event on waiting for them on their rucks.
It had taken over two hours longer than initially projected. Everyone was hungry. In fact, quite a few of us met back up at the closest Waffle House to enjoy some midnight chow. And if that doesn’t say that the event went well and brought people closer together, I don’t know what does.
To those who came out and participated in the 9/11 Ruck of Remembrance, thank you. I appreciate you guys so much. It was seriously an honor to lead you through this event and I hope to see you back, either in the Forge or at future events. Everyone else reading this, I hope to see you at an event like this in the future! Until next time, Go Forge Yourself.